My Lords, this debate is essentially about flexibility, and this measure is essentially one which has been brought forward by Members of the Liberal Democrats. I wish to say a brief word about my relations with their party. Before anyone accuses me of making a Second Reading speech let me say not only that I could not make a real Second Reading speech at Second Reading but also that my relations with the Liberal Democrats are an essential part of my contributing to this particular amendment.
In the 183 years since the Great Reform Bill—which amounts to six generations, at 30.5 years each—six members of my family, one per generation, have served in the House of Commons, the first four being Liberals and the final two being Tories. The first was Member for the Southern Division of Northumberland. He was said to be the richest commoner in England, and he was presumably a Whig. It was perhaps apposite for what was then essentially an Irish family that the second MP was the MP for Armagh, a niece of his having married into the Brookeses.
The third Member was my great-grand-uncle, the son of the richest commoner in England. He entered Parliament as a Liberal MP for Wakefield.